What to Know About Rottweilers

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen Claussen, DVM on May 12, 2022
7 min read

As one of the oldest herding breeds, Rottweilers date back to the Roman Empire, where farmers used the ancestors of Rottweilers to herd cattle and guard the stock at night. The breed name comes from the place they originated — Rottweil, Germany.

Rottweilers are both intelligent and dependable. If you’re willing to spend time understanding the breed, a Rottweiler could make the perfect pet. Get to know some interesting facts about Rottweilers and determine if they’re the right dog for you. 

A Rottweiler has two colors on their coat, though shiny black is the majority color. They have distinct reddish-brown spots just above their eyes that are comparable to human eyebrows. They have more of the same colored markings on their cheeks and on either side of their muzzle. These rust-colored marks are also scattered throughout their four legs, mainly covering the toes.

How big do Rottweilers get? Rottweilers are strong and sturdy dogs with lots of muscle. They can weigh anywhere from 110 to 130 pounds for males and 77 to 110 pounds for females. Male Rottweilers can be anywhere from 24 to 27 inches in height at the shoulders or withers, while females are slightly smaller between 22 to 25 inches at the shoulders or withers. They have a much more powerful bite compared to some other larger breeds, such as German Shepherds and Pitbulls.

While they might look intimidating, a Rottweiler’s personality is generally calm and confident. They are loyal and gentle with their owners. Once your Rottweiler builds a strong bond with you, they want nothing more than to protect you and the home they love. 

Are Rottweilers easy to train? If you’re looking to train a dog to protect you in the face of danger, Rottweilers are a great choice as they have a natural watchdog instinct. 

Apart from being good watchdogs, Rottweilers are relatively easy to train. As with any breed, it’s important to socialize your Rottweiler as a puppy. Make sure to give them plenty of chances to play with other dogs and meet other people while still young. 

Positive reinforcement is the name of the game with any dog. You should reward your Rottweiler puppy with treats so that they understand the good outcomes when they listen to your commands. Nevertheless, make sure to limit the number of treats you give your dog to 10% of their daily caloric intake, as giving them too many treats can lead to obesity.

Overall, Rottweilers are smart. They’re quick learners and want to please you. Show what you expect of them in the beginning, and you’re sure to breeze through training.

Why do Rottweilers get a bad reputation? Apart from being used for herding, ancient Romans also used Rottweilers during battle. Their confident and fearless nature would intimidate the enemy, leading to their stereotype as an aggressive breed.

It’s no doubt the Rottweiler falls under the guard dog category, but there’s more than meets the eye with this breed. Owners may be unaware that when a Rottweiler shows unnecessary aggression, it’s most likely due to innocent yet improper training, such as roughhousing.

Rottweilers are pretty even-tempered. So, unless your Rottweiler feels that you or someone they love is in danger, it’s unlikely they would harm anyone. Rottweilers love to cuddle up beside you on the couch and show affection just as most other dogs do.

How often do Rottweilers need vet visits? Take your Rottweiler to the vet once a year for general health checkups. Like all dog breeds, Rottweilers need regular immunizations, including their rabies vaccine every one to three years. 

If you decide to spay or neuter your Rottweiler, you’ll want to talk to your vet about what age your dog should be.

What medications do Rottweilers need to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworms? Your Rottweiler’s vet can advise you on what medications to give your dog for preventing pests like fleas, ticks, and heartworms, which are threats throughout the United States. Discuss proper preventive treatment with your dog’s vet. 

What type of grooming do Rottweilers need? Rottweiler care is generally straightforward compared to other breeds. Their short coats are relatively low maintenance. They tend to shed twice a year, but they may lose fur more frequently depending on the individual dog. Brush your Rottweiler’s coat once a week to keep it nice and shiny. Consider brushing them more often in spring and winter months when they’re at peak shedding stages.

Nail trimming can be tough to start with some dogs, but you’ll have an easier time doing it if you start your Rottweiler young and make it a regular habit. If you’ve never clipped a dog’s nails, get proper guidance from a vet or groomer. Rottweilers have black nails, making it harder to figure out how much of the nail to trim. When trimming, avoid going past the curve of the nail. Also, look for a chalky white ring on the nail, as this will tell you where you should stop trimming to avoid any potential injury.

Keeping your Rottweiler’s teeth healthy is arguably the most important part of their well-being. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget caring for your dog’s teeth, which is why around 80% of dogs end up with dental disease by age three. Regularly brush your Rottweiler’s teeth and give them dental chews to prevent tartar buildup.

How much food should Rottweilers eat? How much a Rottweiler eats per day usually depends on their age, weight, and activity level. Your vet will guide you best, but it’s generally recommended that you feed adult Rottweilers two meals per day — morning and evening. Rottweiler puppies are growing and may need three to four meals a day.

You can also give your Rottweiler treats during their training, but be sure the amount doesn’t make up more than 10% of their daily calorie intake.

How much activity do Rottweilers need? Since they are a robust breed, Rottweilers need a good amount of daily activity. Giving your Rottweiler mental stimulation through exercise will help make sure they live a long and healthy life. Make sure your Rottweiler gets at least two hours of exercise a day aside from regular potty breaks. Be prepared to take your dog on plenty of long walks and outdoor activities. Rottweilers love adventure. If you’re up for hikes, then you’ll find Rottweilers to be your greatest companion. 

Can Rottweilers stay outside? Rottweilers are homebodies, so it’s better to keep them indoors when it’s not playtime. Though they have a strong double coat, outdoor temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit are too cold for them, so be sure to bring your Rottweiler inside if the temperatures get this low. 

Depending on where you live, temperatures can go above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and feel humid. As a general rule, if it’s too hot outside for you, it’s definitely too hot for your dog — especially with all that fur! So, if you’re enjoying time in your backyard with your Rottweiler, make sure to give them plenty of shade and cold water to drink, just as you’d do for yourself.

How long do Rottweilers live? Rottweilers have a life expectancy of nine to 10 years. They are relatively healthy and tend not to experience diseases. Your Rottweiler should live a long and healthy life as long as you provide them with proper care and regular vet visits. Nevertheless, there are still some health concerns you should look out for with this breed.

Do Rottweilers experience hip dysplasia? Like most other large breeds, Rottweilers can have hip dysplasia. If you plan to get your Rottweiler from a breeder, ask for proof of X-rays certifying that a professional has checked your dog’s ancestral line for any health issues, including hip dysplasia. A reputable breeder will have all the paperwork and certifications ready.

Are there other health concerns to look out for with Rottweilers? For reasons unknown, Rottweilers seem to get parvovirus more easily than other breeds. Parvovirus is usually found in young dogs and can spread when a dog comes into direct or indirect contact with an infected dog’s feces. Luckily, there are vaccines that help prevent parvovirus. And as you make sure to take your Rottweiler to the vet regularly, they should be protected.

Some other common health issues to look out for in Rottweilers include:

  • Cruciate ligament damage
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Epilepsy
  • Allergies
  • Chronic diarrhea/inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Cataracts  
  • Cancer

Finally, maintaining an appropriate weight is important. Overfeeding and underexercising not only lead to obesity but also other major health conditions, including arthritis, difficulty breathing, and diabetes.

How good are Rottweilers with other pets and kids? Even with early socialization, the Rottweiler breed is naturally hardy and self-confident. Make sure to keep an eye on them around smaller dogs, mainly those that tend to pester or provoke larger breeds. Also, be cautious about leaving your Rottweiler unattended around pets that aren’t dogs, even if they’ve all grown up in the same house. 

You should also consider your Rottweiler around small children and babies. Children may be unaware of how to behave around dogs, so avoid leaving your Rottweiler alone with them. Playing it safe with your Rottweiler can help make sure possible conflict doesn’t happen.

Are there other personality traits of Rottweilers? Rottweilers are fairly heavy droolers, especially larger males. While they aren’t heavy shedders, their saliva contains many allergens. So, they may not be the best choice for you if you are allergic to dogs.

You might think that a Rottweiler’s watchdog nature means the breed is prone to barking. On the contrary, Rottweilers are not big barkers. They are calm and quiet and only bark to warn you of danger if necessary.

The American Kennel Club recognized Rottweilers as an official breed in 1931. In the 1990s, Rottweiler’s popularity hit a high with its first appearance in the AKC’s list of the top ten breeds and was listed as the second most popular dog within that decade. While the Rottweiler’s history dates back to the Roman Empire, many people still utilize their strength and intelligence for search and rescue missions, guide dogs for the blind, guard dogs, police work, and, of course, as family pets.